It looks like it ought to be incredible. Will the reality live up to the image for Renault’s new MPV?
With its new Grand Scenic, Renault is reinventing the MPV. As an SUV, mainly.
People have been turning their backs on traditional people carriers for a while now and embracing the new breed of seven-seat faux-by-fours instead. So the new Grand Scenic is a faux-by-faux-by-four, or something like that.
It certainly has the looks. Muscular, assertive, contemporary… cliches all, but every one of them a good word for this new Renault. It even sits on 20” alloys. As standard. Across the range.
That would normally mean supremely low-profile rubber and a shattering ride, but Renault has specced the Grand Scenic with an unusual tyre size whose tall sidewalls help it ride just fine. Of course, if you throw it flat-out at the roughest B-road you can find, the consequences will be every bit as ugly as your driving style, but doing that in a car of this nature would be like trying to use your phone for bashing nails into a plank.
Fact is, if you drive a Grand Scenic it’s because getting your family from place to place matters more than indulging your personal Lewis Hamilton fantasies. So if you go in hard, guess what’s going to happen? Yes, understeer. And body roll. It won’t be tidy.
But what did you expect? Fun? Your children are fun. Now stop trying to make them throw up all over the cabin of your nice new Renault.
A-ha! The cabin! Now we’re getting to the important bit. Big space, clever packaging, you know the drill…
Except, it’s all just a bit meh. To damn it with faint praise, there’s nothing much wrong with it. Build and material quality are good without being great. The seating is flexible, but if you want to put people in the (optional) third row you’ll need to slide the second so far forward its occupants will be able to beat you on the back of the head in revenge. Which they might. In each case, the VW Touran is its nemesis.
These is at least plenty of opportunity to squirrel away whatever bits and bobs you have about your person when you clamber aboard. And the boot is good and big, even in seven-seater mode; drop the third row, which in top models you can do using the multimedia screen (now pay attention, 007), and you have a space bigger than the average million-pound Islington flat.
Said media system can do plenty, but it takes its time when what you want is a smart response. Which brings us to the gearbox, a six-speed dual-clutcher whose shift times when pushed are hesitant, ponderous and very much the stuff of frustration.
Ah, but there we are again, grumbling about the way the Grand Scenic behaves when pushed. And as all parents will tell you, pushing is naughty. So put us, not it, on the naughty step.
Or not. After all, Renault started it by offering this engine and gearbox combination (the box is standard with the 1.6 dCi 160, in fact) so we’re within our rights to drive the engine to its potential and see what happens. Which is that even if you try to take manual control, the box still takes its own sweet time.
That doesn’t stop the Grand Scenic from building up a decent head of steam, though, and once up and running you can keep the pot boiling perfectly well so long as you don’t mind getting barked at if you put the boot in too hard.
For this reason, we’d say the cheaper, cleaner, more frugal 1.5 dCi might be the place to stick. Which is a slightly sad summing-up for a car whose looks come on so strong. But in truth, the Grand Scenic is not as exciting in reality as its styling entitles you to expect.
Renault Grand Scénic 1.6 dCi 160 auto
Engine size 1.6-litre, diesel
Price from TBC
Torque 280lb ft
Top speed 124mph
Fuel economy (official combined) 62.7mpg
CO2/BIK band 118g/km/23%